by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 18th 2010 6:19am
Last month, at a panel in Silicon Valley on the future of journalism, one of the topics of discussion was whether or not tablet computing would be the "savior" of news, with most of the focus being on a recent video put together by Sports Illustrated of what a specialized tablet version of the magazine might look like. More recently, Wired Magazine demonstrated a working prototype of a tabletized version of the magazine. Both of these demos are certainly impressive -- but I'll say the same thing that I said about the SI demo on that panel discussion: why is the focus on the hardware? Nothing in either demo really requires a tablet. If this format is so compelling, why aren't these publications already offering it for use on regular computers? Certainly, the ability to use touchscreen controls is nice, but you could easily replicate the basics with a mouse. If the overall format is so compelling, then what does it have to do with a tablet/iPad, specifically? Now, perhaps Wired does intend for this to be useful on other platforms, as its version is just an Adobe AIR app, and so it could function just fine on a desktop/laptop, but again, the video seems to keep focusing on the tablet as if that's necessary. Yes, perhaps the form factor of a tablet computer makes this experience more enjoyable, but I think it's important in judging whether or not these apps actually make sense to separate the hardware from the software, to see if either makes sense without the other, or if they really are joined at the hip.
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